The Texas Wesleyan men’s basketball team spent spring break as party crashers. Now, the ever-confident Rams are hoping the party never ends.
The third-seeded Rams will meet No. 1 William Penn (Iowa) in the NAIA Fab Four at 8 p.m. Monday at Kansas City’s Municipal Auditorium.
The game marks Wesleyan’s second appearance in the national semifinals. The Rams won the national title in 2006.
“We don’t pass the eye test out here, but you can’t measure how tough they are, how much they are willing to play for each other, and how much they want to be coached,” Wesleyan coach Brennen Shingleton said after the Rams’ 82-73 victory over No. 1-seed Dalton State (Ga.) on Saturday.
The NAIA men’s basketball championships, staged in Kansas City since its inception in 1937 (1994-2001 in Tulsa), is made up of 32 teams and played in just one week.
The win over Dalton State followed victories against sixth-seeded Cumberlands (Ky.) and second-seeded The Master’s (Calif.) in the first and second rounds, respectively.
There is not a selfish bone on this team, and they’re not ready to go home.
Texas Wesleyan coach Brennen Shingleton
Against Dalton State, the Rams relied on top scorer Dion Rogers, who had 22 points and eight rebounds. Five Rams reached double-figures, including Najeal Young and Ryan Harris with 19 points apiece.
Wesleyan’s defense forced 22 turnovers, which they converted into 31 points.
“There is not a selfish bone on this team, and they’re not ready to go home,” Shingleton said.
That’s the way James Naismith would have done it. The inventor of the game was also credited with founding this tournament for small colleges and universities.
This season’s tournament appearance represents Wesleyan’s 14th in school history, beginning in 1940. That season ended in the first of now-three quarterfinal appearances.
The Rams have also advanced to the Round of 16 eight times.